by Rochester Never Again / Pres Release
Rochester, NY area justice and health organizations asked that a donation of hygiene supplies be distributed throughout the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York to limit the further spread of COVID-19. In a week-long hygiene drive administered by Rochester Never Again, Jews, immigrants, and allies in the Greater Rochester Area and beyond donated 600 handmade face masks, over 500 bars of soap, over $600, and hundreds of other hygiene products.
Now, it is up to Facility Administrator Jeffrey Searls and other ICE administrators to take immediate action to protect the lives of people inside and outside the facility. Movement of staff between the facility and the community puts every life in the surrounding area at risk unless measures are taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 inside the facility.
The donation of soap and personal protective equipment is necessary due to mounting evidence that ICE is not yet adequately distributing supplies throughout the facility. In communications with Justice for Migrant Families and Investigative Post, detained individuals speak of the “traumatic situation” they are subject to within the facility, where social distancing guidelines cannot be adhered to and there is insufficient supply of soap and hand sanitizer. This is despite 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among detained people and incomplete testing of the others who may have been exposed.1
The following letter was sent to ICE Facility Administrator Jeffrey Searls, asking him to accept these donations to the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility:
Facility Administrator Searls,
Recently, our community has come together and made our message clear: We value the lives of our neighbors.
We have collected donations of 600 handmade face masks, over 500 bars of soap, hundreds of other hygiene products, and over $600 for the purchase of more supplies. We are asking that you take these items and distribute them to detained individuals. We are committed to working out a way to provide these donations while also abiding by CDC guidelines, to ensure that they stay sanitary for use by people detained at your facility.
Accepting these supplies will save lives. With dozens of workers coming and going from the facility every day, another outbreak in the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility could quickly spread around WNY. Slowing the spread of this virus protects each and every one of us, and beckons closer the day we can all move freely throughout our community without fear. Thank you for your diligence in protecting public health by accepting our support.
As this matter can not wait, we ask that you respond no later than the end of the day Tuesday, May 26th.
Rochester Never Again
Genesee Valley Chapter of New York Civil Liberties Union
Jewish Voice for Peace Rochester
M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
ROC SALT Center
First Unitarian Church of Rochester
St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality
Close the Camps Buffalo
Rochester Rapid Response Network
Rochester Mutual Aid Network
Rochester Democratic Socialists of America
Robin Wilt for Congress
Rabbi Drorah Setel
Rabbi Peter Stein
Dr. Ayala Emmett